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Savoy Cocktail Book Reviews Retro Recipes From Drinks Past

Savoy Cocktail Book cover with inner artwork outlines.

Craddick Compendium Chronicles Classic Cocktails Compilation

The Savoy Cocktail Book is a collection of hundreds of drink recipes documented and sometimes created by Harry Craddick, the head barman at the American Bar inside the Savoy Hotel in London during the 1920s and 1930s. First published in 1930, reprinted editions now include over 750 drinks including new cocktail recipes along with lots of anecdotes and humor.

Widely acknowledged as a mixology must read, the Savoy Cocktail book is arguably the most important volume on pre-prohibition era vintage drinks. If you decide to get serious with your home bar and go beyond dabbling around as a hobby, then this reference should definitely be in your bartending library.

Savoy Drinks Named Inn Honor Of The Hotel

Savoy Hotel Cocktail:

  • 1/3  Brandy
  • 1/3  Benedictine
  • 1/3  Creme de Cacao

Use liqueur glass and pour ingredients carefully, so that they do not mix forming a Pousse-cafe.

Savoy Hotel Special Cocktail* (No. 1):

  • 2/3  dry gin
  • 1/3  French Vermouth
  • 2 dashes  grenadine
  • 1 dash  absinthe

Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass. Squeeze lemon peel on top.

Savoy Hotel Special Cocktail (No. 2):

  • 2/3  Plymouth gin
  • 1/3  French Vermouth
  • 2 dashes  Dubonnet

Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass. Squeeze orange peel on top.

Savoy Tango Cocktail:

  • 1/2  Applejack or Calvados
  • 1/2  sloe gin

Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass. This cocktail is a very great favorite at the Savoy Hotel, London, where it was invented.

How Dost Thou Measure Thee?

The only downside to the book is the need to convert all the measurements into units that are easy to work with. However, if you use a measuring cup with milliliters instead of ounces, you can do the math in your head.

A general note in some new drink sections of the Savoy Cocktail book editions states that “all recipes are based on a 100ml (3 1/2 fl oz) mixed drink and are made for drinking vessels of approx. 150ml-200ml (5-7 fl oz). 1 bar spoon equals approximately 5ml, whereas a dash amounts to approximately 3ml or 1/2 bar spoon.”

This would suggest that those recipes referring to units of measure in glass or wineglass, would be closer to today’s generally accepted 4 ounces (3 1/2 oz in this case). However, Savoy Stomp interprets the wineglass measurement for The Savoy Cocktail Book as the older / original volume definition of 2 ounces and provides explanation here.

Whichever of these two wineglass volume definitions you prefer, most of the recipe ingredients are simple fractions of 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 and 1/5 of the 60ml or 100ml total, so 1/2 of 100ml = 50ml, 1/3 of 60ml = 20ml, etc. Quick .. what’s 1/5 of 3 1/2 oz? Well, you get the point. Stick with metric units when measuring the drink ingredients in this book or write the measurement conversions for ounces in the margins somewhere for reference.

How Much Is A Hooker?

The Apple Jack Rabbit, Brandy Gump, Los Angeles, Mamie Taylor, Nevada, Nose Dive and Philadelphia Scotsman cocktails all refer to hookers of gin, rum, whiskey, etc. in various quantities in their drink recipes. Since this book was written in London, you might think this obscure measurement term is Shakespearean or Old English.

As far as mixing drinks is concerned, a hooker is slang for an approximate measure of alcohol equivalent to a slug or an oversized shot according to Wiktionary. Without defining the volume, the Nose-Dive cocktail seems to confirm that in the drink’s description as an old school Depth Charge which states: “take a hooker of gin, place in it an olive, then deposit the (shot)glass carefully in the bottom of an ordinary tumbler. Fill said tumbler with…”

If you search around for an answer to “how many ounces are in a hooker?” or “what is the volume of a hooker used in drink recipes?” you’ll basically find two mixology / cooking definitions. Elemental Mixology defines the volume of a hooker as 2 1/2 ounces and Savoy Stomp uses 1 1/2 ounces as its hooker unit of measurement. Since there doesn’t appear to be a standard size, who’s to say they both aren’t right. You’ll have to decide by taste.

How Much Juice Does A Citrus Juicer Juice Per Fruit In 1930 London?

Many of the drink recipes in the Savoy Cocktail Book call for the juice of lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits and tangerines in various whole and fractional fruit sizes. This means you’ll have to convert these quantities into useable measurements as well unless you plan to juice 1/4 fruit sections individually while mixing each drink.

This isn’t to suggest not to freshly squeeze, its just easier / more efficient to juice in batches and depends on the situation. Fruit sizes and methods of juicing will yield different amounts as well. The Bolo and New York as well as both the White and Jack Rose cocktails call for 1/4 lemon or 1/2 lime for example which suggests they feel the juice of 2 limes equals the same quantity produced by 1 lemon.

As noted below, a quick look at a few of the formulations to see if a hooker volume of 2 1/2 ounces would work with total drink sizes of 100ml seemed to indicate it would if the juice yielded per fruit was the lower value in the ranges typically defined.

Juice Of One Citrus Fruit Quantities For Savoy Cocktail Book Drink Recipes:

  • Limes ~ 23ml = 3/4 oz
  • Lemons ~ 45ml = 1 1/2 oz
  • Oranges / Tangerines ~ 60ml = 2 oz
  • Grapefruits ~ 180ml = 6 oz

If you love vintage drinks, you’ll love the Savoy Cocktail Book. Get a copy for your bar here.


* - Peter, ninth Earl of Savoy, brought to England, as his wards, eighty-three of the most wealthy and beautiful girls in France. He then married them to the most powerful nobles in England. That is why he wore armor.

† - The 100ml drink size appears to exclude anything smaller than a tablespoon in that total volume. This is based on an unscientific sampling of some of the early Savoy Cocktail book drink recipes to correlate the measurement quantities used as recommendations. There are lots of discrepancies and inconsistencies between formulations which don’t fit the book’s apparent goal of uniform drink sizes, but this partial analysis seems to work best as overall rule of thumb guidelines. As with any recipe used for home bar tending, experiment and adjust to taste.

‡ - you’ll also discover that the Urban Dictionary (who else?) defines the amount of space occupied by hookers a bit differently.

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